An Entanglement (2015) – Short Film

an-entanglement-posterDirector: Dylan Sanford

Starring: Shiri Appleby, Sean Bell, Gary Wolf

Synopsis: When a strange man (Sean Bell) approaches Violet (Shiri Appleby) in a conspicuously public place, he makes a shocking reveal: he has been hired by her seemingly loving husband, Rick (Gary Wolf) to murder her. But the man offers Violet an alternative: pay double the rate and the man will redirect the contract back on her plotting spouse. Presented with this information, will she choose self-preservation at the cost of everything she knows? And how can she truly trust this man?

In filmmaking, having a creatively unique premise is like finding good kindling for a fire – 50% of the work is done, and you only need to ensure that the other elements are functioning as they should. That’s exactly what’s happens with Dylan Sanford’s film. Sanford smartly avoids a long introduction, instead delving right in with the film’s concept. Immediately, Violet is approached by the strange man, who reveals that has been hired to kill her – by her husband, of all people. It’s hard to imagine the idea of a perfectly happy relationship suddenly collapsing, and the thought of that relationship demolishing to such an extreme extent is inconceivable. Alas, it’s impossible not to be hooked from that very first moment. We don’t get to see Violet’s world of normality; rather, we begin at the point where Violet’s life has completely left that realm. The even bigger kicker is that by skipping the exposition, Sanford has made sure that we know nothing of these characters; and so our curiosity grows.

Sean Bell steals the show as “the strange man”. With a calculating tone and penetrating stare, he’s terrifying, but often comes off as gentle and pitying in his conversation with Violet. When the man approaches her in the diner, he begins with, “I’m going to offer you the chance of a lifetime,” before telling her about her husband’s wish to be rid of her. But is this truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, or does the man offer this choice to all of his victims. This lingering question toys with the audience as we wonder about the motivations behind the man’s actions; but Sean Bell gives nothing away.

Violet’s reaction to the situation is the only disappointing factor of the film. In theory, a person’s spouse is whom they’re closest to, and whom they trust the most. To find out that this person can no longer bear to have you in his life – so much that divorce isn’t good enough – should be completely devastating. That’s not the sense Violet gives off, and this is due to a lackluster performance by Shiri Appleby. Her acting in the role is barely skin deep, and she’s not as embedded in the character as she should be.

What is it that they say about wives? Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em? Marriages go wrong for many different reasons and in many different ways; and in “An Entanglement”, Sanford creates a thrilling and boldly curious examination of a marriage gone very wrong.

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